Brewing Guide for Green, Black, Oolong and Pu-erh Teas
Green/White Tea: Water temperature should be close to 85C Use 5-6 grams of green/white tea per 100ml of volume. Brief 10 second wash... then 10s, 15s, 20s, 30s, 45s, and then maybe a minute each time until it's brewed out. I prefer to gradually coax out the subtle flavors.
Black Tea: Water temperature should be close to 90C Use 5-6 grams of black tea per 100ml of volume. Brief 10 second wash... then 10s, 15s, 20s, 30s, 45s, and then maybe a minute each time until it's brewed out. I prefer to gradually coax out the subtle flavors.
Oolong Tea: Water temperature should be close to 95C (or higher). Use 4-5 grams of oolong tea per 100ml of volume. Brief 10 second wash... then 10s, 15s, 20s, 30s, 45s, and then maybe a minute each time until it's brewed out. I prefer to gradually coax out the subtle flavors.
Pu-erh Tea: Pu-erh tea brewing is not so different from oolong teas. You want the water as hot as possible (95c-100c) when you pour it into your teapot or gaiwan. If you are going to use yixing (or any other porous clay), I would dedicate one pot for ripe pu-erh and another for raw.
With raw pu-erhs I typically wash the leaves once for period of about 20 seconds. For ripe pu-erh I typically wash the leaves twice for a period of about 15 seconds each time. The second/third infusion is to be drank. The first one/two infusions wash the leaves and prime them, use the tea water to wash the cups. The third and fourth infusions don't require long infusions times at all (20 seconds or less).
Pay attention to the taste and the infused liquor of the tea through successive infusions, as the leaves "give it up" you will want to extend infusion times to get more out of the leaves. Most Pu-erhs can be infused anywhere between 10 and 20 times.
When prying leaves from a cake or brick, try to remove layer by layer and avoid breaking the tea leaves too much, broken up leaves when brewed will become bitter.
Another factor worth mentioning that will affect the outcome of your brew is how much tea you decide to use. Although many people measure weight (tea) versus volume (water), I prefer an intuitive approach, filling the the tea pot or gaiwan to about a quarter of its volume with leaves.
If you prefer a tea weight to water ratio I would recommend 6 grams per 100ml of water. Water should be 100C (boiling hot)! Notice how tightly compressed Pu-erhs will expand more when infused than those that are less tightly compressed. Pay attention to the gradual expansion of the leaves and the flavor that comes out of them.
Try “tweaking” the different variables I’ve mentioned and pay attention to the result, this is part of the enjoyment of discovering Pu-erh!
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Check out our video on "Pu-erh tea Preparation Using a Gaiwan"